Phowa (pronounced po-wa) is a Tibetan practice for the moment of death. "Phowa" means "ejection" or "transference" of consciousness into the light. For a much more complete description of this and other practices for the moment of death, please see The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche, pages 214-217 and 231-235.
Although traditionally done by a lama at the moment of death, phowa may also be done for the soul of the departed person years afterwards. Since the spiritual level is not as constrained by time and space as is the physical, do not hesitate to practice it for those long gone.
Basic Phowa for the Deceased
- As usual, start by offering the practice for the welfare of all beings that need help. In this way, many other souls will benefit also.
- Invoke the Presence of the Divine help in whatever form most comfortable and familiar to you. If you do not like to personify the Divine, imagine Light.
- Visualize the soul of the departed person in front of you with all of his or her facilities intact. Take a few minutes to have a silent conversation with that soul, resolving any unfinished issues and forgiving one another. (Have tissues handy.) If the person committed suicide, do the "Clearing Your Space" technique also.
- Ask the soul to be receptive to the blessings and healing of the divine beings surrounding him or her. Help the person understand that he or she deserves this help and will not be incurring any obligation by receiving these blessings.
- Visualize the divine beings or light showering the soul of the departed with light, blessings, healing and love so all negativity is purified completely. Since the supply of help is infinite, the light and healing power are limitless and unending. Wave after wave of light, love and healing fill the soul until he or she is totally radiant: a being of light. Take as long as necessary to complete this step.
- Once the soul is completely filled with light, imagine the divine powers escort him or her into the Light, back to God or through the gates of Heaven. Knowing that the unconditional love between two souls is eternal, let the soul go freely, remembering that on some level, you will always be connected.
- When the soul has gone into the Light or back to the Source, recognize that he or she has been totally taken care of and there is nothing else to do. Call back into your body through the crown of your head any parts of your spirit or consciousness that were with the departed. Bring these pasts back to their home in your heart or wherever they belong.
- As with all practices, end by giving thanks to the Divine and dedicating the blessings so that all beings benefit.